The successful and nationally recognized Call Me MISTER program, established at Clemson University in 2000 to increase the number of African-American males teaching in K-12 schools, will collaborate with Jackson State University to increase the diversity of available teachers in Mississippi. This collaboration will be funded by a $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.

Implementing the program will allow Jackson State to continue to address Mississippi’s most-pressing educational concerns, including closing achievement gaps and the dropout rate. Currently, Mississippi graduates only 46 percent of its black male students from high school, and black males make up only 5 percent of the state’s teacher work force.

MISTER stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. After a decade in South Carolina, 145 MISTERs are enrolled in the program; 80 have graduated from college and been placed in the classroom, resulting in a 40 percent increase in the number of African-American male teachers in South Carolina public elementary schools.The program has expanded to 14 colleges in South Carolina. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program in six additional states: Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri and Georgia.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with Jackson State University in this program that will broaden the diversity of role models in the classroom,” said Clemson Provost Doris Helms. “We have seen this program succeed in South Carolina and begin to change the landscape of elementary education, and are looking forward to the same kind of success in Mississippi.”

“We are meeting a very real need,” said Roy Jones, director of Call Me MISTER. “Our growth is due to our success in galvanizing support in both the private and public sectors.”